Woman looking at supplements in store

Novel Formats to Fight Supplement Pill Fatigue

Supplements offer consumers a personalized way to take control of their health and nutrition—which they love. However, consumers may not love the idea of taking another pill. Here's a look at alternative supplement formats that can help address pill fatigue and delight consumers. 

Why Consumers Are Interested in Alternative Supplement Formats

The incredible popularity of the gummy vitamin was undoubtedly an eye opener for many supplement manufacturers. Not only did it prove that fun formats aren’t just for kids, but it also hinted at the vast untapped potential in alternative supplement formats. While many supplement users have had trouble swallowing a pill at some point, many more simply don’t look forward to taking their pills. Or it was fine for a while until they reached a point when it wasn’t—a phenomenon known as pill fatigue.

Pill fatigue has become a real concern for supplement companies due to its impact on compliance and is a key driver of alternative supplement formats. But beyond relieving pill fatigue, alternative formats can offer consumers a delightful sensory experience that they look forward to. Novel formats are popular with consumers for their enjoyable taste, smell, appearance, mouthfeel, and/or interactive experience. A novel format can turn a supplement into a fun treat and a little reward for taking good care of oneself.

Gummy supplements

Supplement Format Innovations

Whether it’s to support energy, sleep, beauty, sports performance, or general health, a supplement that offers the benefits consumers are looking for in a format that resonates with them will stand out. Explore the alternative supplement formats manufacturers are experimenting with to fight pill fatigue and encourage repeat purchases:

1. Gummies

Especially popular with Millennials, gummies come in fun shapes, bright colors, and a variety of sweet, fruity flavors like strawberry, orange, and peach. Gummies continue to grab market share in the multivitamin-mineral segment, with the candy experience undoubtedly leading to better compliance. Supplement formulation challenges can include ingredient interactions and bitter flavors, which are often addressed through microencapsulation. 

2. Chews

Chews are another option for the supplement user who loves candy. This supplement format offers a different look and feel than a gummy—more opaque and with a chewy (rather than gelled) texture. While chews can be fruit flavored (especially for vitamin C), decadent flavors like caramel and chocolate are particularly popular in products targeting women, such as calcium and women’s multivitamin-mineral supplements.

3. Bites

A newer supplement format is the daily bite, developed by GEM, a California start-up. This bite-sized, real food vitamin-mineral supplement contains fifteen nutrients from whole food sources such as spirulina, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sprouted quinoa. The supplement formulation also includes dates for sweetness and, depending on the product, peppermint oil, lemon oil, or cocoa powder for flavor.

4. Gels

Gels are probably best known as a sports nutrition supplement format for long distance runners. The tiny, lightweight packets are the ultimate in convenience. Formula innovation is strong in this segment, having expanded from simple carb blends to refuel during a run to gels that include electrolytes, amino acids, and caffeine. Gels made of whole food blends are also available. 

Vitamin C drink with orange slices and tablets

5. Effervescent Tablets

Airborne’s immune system supplements helped popularize the effervescent tablet as a supplement format. Just drop one tablet into a glass of water and wait for it to dissolve for a lightly sweetened, flavored water with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and botanicals. The effervescent tablet format continues to expand and is now used in such diverse products as daily multivitamin-mineral supplements, collagen for skin health, and green superfood blends.

6. Sprays

A supplement format that may be picking up is the spray. This format includes vitamin sprays, mineral sprays, omega-3 sprays, and functional sprays for immunity, stress relief, and sleep. While some of these are sprayed under the tongue (sublingual), others are sprayed onto the skin (transdermal). Special considerations for this format include the ability of the spray pump to deliver a uniform dose and the impact of product viscosity on the spray. 

7. Liquid Drops

CBD oil has put liquid drops back in the spotlight. Liquid drop supplements are available for individual vitamins and minerals, multivitamin-mineral supplements, probiotics, melatonin, and herbal extracts, to name a few. Liquid drops are often unsweetened and unflavored (though some may contain an essential oil such as peppermint oil). Fans of this format often enjoy the interactive experience, finding it fun to use the dropper. They can add a dropperful into the mouth or into a food or beverage.

8. Shots

Shots—particularly energy shots—have become so popular that grocery and convenient stores keep them near the check-out as an impulse item. These tiny bottles offer portable convenience that allows consumers to easily keep one on hand for when they need it. Besides energy shots, there are immunity shots, beauty shots, brain shots, and more. Supplement formulation often requires expertise in flavor and sweetener systems to help cover the taste of highly concentrated bitter ingredients.

Succeeding in Supplements

More than ever, today’s supplement users are interested in format options that are convenient and enjoyable and work for their lifestyle. The one-size-fits approach is quickly becoming a thing of the past as consumers increasingly expect options that meet their own individual preferences. Supplement companies that focus on innovative formats with real benefits and those that offer a variety of formats are especially likely to get noticed.

To succeed in the supplement market, the right supplement format along with the right ingredients to meet the target consumers’ needs is essential. 

We have an extensive portfolio of ingredient technologies and capabilities to support the development of various supplement formats. From our wide portfolio of health beneficial bioactive ingredients to our ability to formulate a custom nutrient premix solution containing a host of nutrient combinations, we have the knowledge and expertise to support your supplement development. Our capability to functionally optimize nutrients through various in-house technologies provides value-added security that key ingredients will perform at their best within your supplement format and for your consumers. Collaborate with us and find out how we can help you create your next great supplement. 

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